Tuesday, July 17, 2012

     I have watched and listened closely to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo closely since he began his career in politics. I admired his father very much, for what I learned of him, and for what I know through my own interest in how our public servants behave and display integrity, or lack of it. In my opinion, Andrew lacks the most important qualities it takes to serve the state (or the country, should he be foolish enough to try) well. While Mario took stands to defend principles (representing low-income NY residents as a lawyer, opposing the death penalty, avoiding a presidential run despite his enormous popularity...), Andrew panders and tap-dances around issues. Three-quarters joining the attack on public school teachers, then three-quarters backing off-giving in on NOT publishing teacher eval data, but pushing to allow parent access to teacher ratings. This despite the fact that data used will be based largely on a state testing system that NY Education Commissioner King himself has said is in flux. True, King HAD to say that because the whole testing game and the tests themselves are ill-conceived and poorly constructed, administration of tests is in no way developmentally sound (especially for elementary students) AND *nail in the coffin alert* that whole pineapple thing.
     It was clear, as it is with many other things to any teacher with ten or more years in the field, that tests were quickly thrown together without the care required for something so seemingly significant. Flashy curriculum materials and supposedly valid testing tools are anxiously thrown together by publishing companies eager to score sales and contracts for their materials. Schools and students have become the victims in these sales games, and with teacher-blood in the water, the weasels have been circling. I know..."sharks", but that would be too kind. King, Murdoch, Gates, Rhee...many others with little to no teaching experience in real public school classrooms with real public school students have suddenly become experts on public school education. They have been given respect and influence they have not earned, and allowed to shape the debate to make it sound as if students haven't been well served.
     But I stray...back to Andrew Cuomo. Recently, the Times Union reported that our Governor does not use state provided email, or any type of communication that would provide a record of how he is spending our time and money. This makes me sad, mostly for Mario and any politician ever who has actually stood proudly on principle and not simply positioned themselves politically. Here is my letter to the Times Union.

To the Editor,

     It doesn’t surprise me that Governor Cuomo prefers leaving no trace or record of his communications, despite his platform of transparency. As quoted in the July 16th Times Union article: "If it doesn't pass the smell test, they shouldn't be doing it.” (Mark Caramancia, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press). This doesn’t just smell, it should be actionable. Positioning yourself to advance in a career of public service, at an expense to the public, requires accountability for how you spend the public’s time and money. As a public school teacher, I am learning that politicians are more than willing to expect that kind of accountability from others. Cuomo doesn’t surprise me because he reveals the truth about political office and the people who seek it for their own gain and political path forward (watch for a future Cuomo presidential run).

     If he wants to maintain privacy in regards to how he does his job and how he spends his time, then he needs to leave office to work in the private sector. Resign immediately-no disgrace. Just "man-up" and say "The taxpaying voters who I currently work for would likely not appreciate how I am spending their time and money. Therefore I am going to, for once, openly and honestly act in the best interest of everyone and leave office to pursue a career where my actions can remain hidden." The public is his employer. How he does his job should remain a matter of public record.

This letter ended up being published a little more than a week,pretty much "as-is" except for a deletion: 2nd paragraph from "disgrace" to "hidden".

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